Sponsored Video: Is The Time Right For Flexible Working?
In this article, sponsored by BT, we will be considering the notion of flexible, or “agile”, working in a modern enterprise environment. Since the dawn of desktop computing in the early 1980s the ideal of a virtual office and flexible working environment has often been a dream to some yet a nightmare to others. However, with the march of time and the evolution of technology could now be the ideal time for enterprise to look again at how human resources are effectively deployed and managed?
Providing resources to employees located within an enterprise environment can be manageable; providing a similar standard of service at home can be challenging but achievable; providing a stable and secure virtual environment to allow employees to work from anywhere anytime – now that’s a tall order – even today. Providing an anywhere, anytime service to employees requires a radically different way of thinking from a traditional network environment which is still trapped in the “tied to the desk” mentality of the last century. A new enterprise may have an advantage if agile working and mobility is considered up front but walk into many mainstream office environments today and you are still likely to see wired network points, desktop computers, and people playing minesweeper whilst they await the updated figures from department X.
From a technical point of view, the required infrastructure changes in enterprise to cater for mobility have provided much of the impetus for reconsidering agile working as the two overlap in a number of functional areas. For example if Mary from marketing or Bob from accounts have their own mobile device chances are they have already figured out how to access work related emails – and the slow drip of data away from the centralised data warehouse, into the consumer space, has already begun – plugging that gap can be met with fierce resistance but providing more direct access to business communications through an agile environment may be a better solution all round. Add to this the idea that the provision of a flexible working environment is also an ideal way to fend off the growing number of “bring your own devices to work” advocates and the agile environment could just be the next big thing to happen.
But will full scale agile working hit the mainstream enterprise? Personally, I think not yet. Mainstream enterprise just isn’t ready for it. There are some enterprise environments whose setup rely almost solely on the exchange of data between employees and it is in this environment where agile may find a place and is possibly already working quite effectively. However, an enterprise with manufacturing, warehousing, or distribution is going to hit a wall very quickly as people generally need to be where the product is and those people need managing, and they need equipment which needs managing, and so it goes on up the line.
There may still be benefits though, for example face to face meetings which might otherwise incur travel costs and expenses could be replaced with cloud based alternatives whilst allowing some employees to work from home could lead to a 20-30% increase in productivity. To learn more head over to bt.com/globalservices and see what BT have in mind.